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Sunday, April 23, 2006

QPR Lose at Home to Watford

QPR 1 Watford 2: Watford gain crucial edge for play-offs
Own goal from 10-man QPR wins Hornets home second leg for the semi-finals
By Jonathan Clegg at Loftus Road
Published: 23 April 2006
Adrian Boothroyd boldly declared that he was unfazed by his side's poor record against their play-off rivals this week, with Watford having failed to muster a single victory against any of their possible opponents in next month's end-of-season knockout. Of more concern to the Watford manager will be this subdued performance.
Watford's win, against a QPR team down to 10 men for the entire second half, was down more to luck than judgement. Although much of this match was played out against a raucous chorus of "We are going up" from their supporters, Watford's laboured display did little to support this verdict.
The win ensured Watford will play the second leg of their upcoming play-off tie at home.
"Football's about condensing space and finding space, and we forgot that today," said Boothroyd. "We didn't get it wide enough. We didn't find the spare man, and we let ourselves down a bit today." If Boothroyd was annoyed by the manner in which his young side edged to victory, he should be encouraged by the fact that going into the play-offs, which Boothroyd described as "a total lottery", luck is on their side.
Despite matching their opponents for much of this encounter, QPR conspired to gift the points to their opponents with a farcical late own-goal, having already ensured that the visitors played the whole of the second half with an extra man.
"I think that summed up the last five or six weeks for the team, the squad and the club," sighed QPR's caretaker manager, Gary Waddock.
"We're down on our luck at the moment." Luck, though, tells only part of the story, and in truth, Waddock's players must shoulder much of the responsibility for emerging pointless in a match they bossed.
Waddock had implored his players to match Watford's fighting spirit prior to kick-off, and it seemed that the message had been heeded when Lloyd Doyley's lazy challenge on the Rangers winger Lee Cook allowed Marc Nygaard to score from the penalty spot. However, it seemed that something may have been lost in translation. Moments before half-time, the Danish forward Nygaard, cautioned for removing his shirt when celebrating his opener, galloped down the pitch to play his part in a brawl with Watford's Darius Henderson, and was dismissed by Andy D'Urso.
"He knows that he's let the group down," said Waddock. "I'll be looking at the incident and if he needs to be fined, he will be." By then Watford had already levelled the scores through Ashley Young's smart finish, which came from a long clearance just seconds after Paul Furlong's chipped effort have hit the bar, but they struggled to find a way through QPR's resolute rearguard until Rangers' Georges Santos handed them an unlikely winner by heading a clearance past his own goalkeeper.
Boothroyd, meanwhile, will be hoping that fortune smiles on his team a while longer yet.

By Tom Collomosse, PA Sport
QPR boss Gary Waddock called for a fan who threw a plastic bottle at Watford's Jordan Stewart to be banned from football.
A 41-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident midway through the second half of Watford's 2-1 win at Loftus Road today.
And caretaker manager Waddock admitted he was saddened by the incident.
"Whoever committed this offence should not be allowed back into football grounds," he said. "There is no place for it.
"No-one should be throwing bottles. I don't like to see it at any grounds, and certainly not at ours."
Watford boss Adrian Boothroyd was more light-hearted about the incident. He said: "It was a hot day, and I thought it was a lovely gesture from a fan to keep the players hydrated.
"Jordan did very well; he just picked it up, gave it to the referee and got on with the game, but it's not something you really want to see."
Watford secured a top-four finish in the Coca-Cola Championship with this victory, which ensures they will play the second leg of their play-off semi-final at home.
Most of the match's talking points came in a five-minute spell before half-time.
Marc Nygaard gave Rangers the lead from the penalty spot in the 39th minute - only to be sent off in the 44th minute for two bookings, the first for taking off his shirt after scoring, and the second for dissent.
In between those incidents, Paul Furlong had hit the bar for Rangers, from which Watford broke clear immediately and Ashley Young equalised with a terrific curling shot into the top-right corner.
The game appeared to be drifting towards a draw, but Watford won it 12 minutes from full-time when Georges Santos inexplicably headed past his goalkeeper Paul Jones.
Waddock added: "Georges is devastated, and Marc knows he let the team down by getting sent off. He is just so keen to do well, but sometimes he needs to calm down a little.
"I will be looking at the incident, and if Marc needs to be fined, he will be. He made it difficult for the other players, because it was a hot day.
"This game summed up the luck we have had over the last five or six weeks, and we hope next season it will turn for us."
Boothroyd's men have surprised many by reaching the play-offs this term, and the Watford manager added: "I would imagine anyone would want to be at home in the second leg of a play-off semi-final.
"But we have been equally good at home and away in the league this season, so perhaps it will make little difference

Gary Waddock chose to draw on the positives, despite a 2-1 defeat against local rivals Watford.
Rangers played the entire second half with ten men, after goalscorer Marc Nygaard saw red for two bookable offences.
And the Hornets, who earlier levelled through Ashley Young, only stole maximum points when Georges Santos headed into his own net 12 minutes from time.
"We battled our hearts out after going down to ten men and I'm incredibly proud of each and every one of them.
"On another day, Furs' effort goes in and we go 2-0 up and win the game.
"I don't know what to say - it's just not happening for us.
"Furs must be one of the unluckiest blokes in the world and I feel the same way.
"If there was an award for that at the Player of the Year do tonight I think we'd probably share it.''
Waddock was slightly critical of Nygaard though; whose sending off for two yellow cards gave Watford a numerical advantage in the second half.
"I'm disappointed with Marc. He scored a goal and was playing well, but realises he's let himself and his team-mates down.
"To be fair to him, he's absolutely gutted and so are the rest of the lads, but if we continue to show this kind if fighting spirit, our luck will eventually turn.
"There's no doubt yet again that we deserved to get something from the game.''

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